I think my laptop is haunted. It’s a little bit ancient, and it makes a rattling sound when it encounters a site that requires those new-fangled moving pictures to come to life. It has reached all the updates it can maintain, it’s never featured in any kind of alluring ads, and it weighs a hefty amount. It also does things that baffle me.
It’s a 2007 black MacBook (the sight of which made my students gasp “You have a black one? That’s so cool! Where did you get it? Is it new?” because it’s so old it was new when they were in kindergarten) and it is running on some sort of Apple-determined animal system (lions and leopards and critters, oh my) that is the end of the line for me. I also have the Microsoft for Apple suite of word processing, spreadsheet, and pointing the power, and that stubbornly refuses to update for various reasons.
I think it’s haunted because it performs these cool tricks all by itself, with no input from me. Open a new tab? Switch to a psychedelic patterned screen with horrifying neon color combinations that force my retinas into overdrive. Of course, once I blink, it’s gone, and the screen is blandly looking back with a smug attitude like “Yes? You wanted a new tab open? And?” Or I click on a link in a website, and it magically gives me seven minutes of free time to do what I want. I usually use that time to sit slack-jawed watching the spinning beach ball of doom do the dance, and then I’m hypnotized. I don’t know what happens during that time, but when the link finally loads, I come back to life and look at the little clock in the upper screen and am mystified to discover those seven minutes have passed with no input from me. What happened? Invariably, I shift my eyes to see if anyone has noticed even though I’m alone in the house at the time.
Then there’s the mysterious box flashes. You innocently type a website into your address bar, and as the page haltingly and begrudgingly deigns to load, a rectangular-shaped object flashes momentarily onto the screen and disappears. Oh, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I do shrink the page to get rid of the ad that must be running behind the main page. Except there’s nothing there. It’s like when you catch a fleeting image out of the corner of your eye but it’s gone when you turn your head, or that whisper of a movement behind you when you look in the mirror and swear that somebody is about to go all Norman Bates on you. I know I saw the box, I know it was there, why won’t anyone believe me?
The strangest part is my Microsoft Suite for Mac. I say suite because that’s what was on the box, but I really only use the Word application. Whether I click on the stylized “W” in my side bar or I double-click a document I’ve saved to my desktop (for easy access!) I enter into a black hole of despair and gnashing of teeth and deep groans. Because here is where the poltergeists take over. The “W” icon bounces merrily away, deceptively looking for all the world like it’s excited to have been selected and it will be there in a minute it just needs to use the bathroom first. If I listen closely I think I can hear “Tubular Bells” playing which in the movies is the cue that it’s time to hightail it out of there. Then it stops bouncing and gives birth to an opening screen, as if it’s introducing itself to me (for the hundred thousandth time) and urges me to select a task: thoughtfully, the “new document” option is already highlighted, but that’s another black hole and I won’t go there. I click on the document I am currently working on, and things start bouncing again. (I’d like to report that this is the part where the lights flicker and go out, but thankfully my laptop isn’t that powerful. Yet.) Hesitatingly, the full screen brings itself up, moaning and clanking, and it’s completely blank.
This is the part that used to give me a heart attack (which is one of the ways the older victims in the horror movies die and I believe they really get off easy; wouldn’t you rather have a heart attack than be subject to all the gruesome that’s headed the way of the oh-so-attractive and perky young people); the page then loads my words, but oddly enough it loads the last words first. Seriously. There they are, the last few words I wrote the day before, and a huge gap of nothingness before it; no intro, no hilarious metaphors, no scintillating ruminations, nada. I’m patient. I can wait. No I can’t. I attempt to scroll to find the pages, and it happens again! The spinning beach ball of doom! What in the world can it possibly be doing? There are no ads to load, there are no pictures, there’s just the basic text. When the seven minute gap has passed and I am returned to earth again, the page has loaded except for the last few words.
There are spirits toying with me, my friends, and it’s not amusing. When I finally am able to get some writing done, and I hit the almighty “save” command, suddenly my disc drive begins to whir and click. I don’t have a disc in there, I don’t have any settings remotely connecting the two, but the ghosts are not done playing with me, it seems. I do get a message assuring me my document has been saved, and I decide to leave this nefarious program before something worse happens. Mousing over to the upper task bar, I click on “Word” and scroll down to “Quit,” because I like closing out programs I’m not using. It’s like folding and putting away a towel after you’ve finished drying the dishes. Are you surprised to learn that HOURS later, the program is still attempting to quit? I imagine those twisted souls hanging on to the document as it spirals down into the “Quit” drain screaming silently and refusing to let it go and clawing at it with their sharp dirty nails, consuming some of my written words in the process and vowing they will make me pay for this transgression. It’s a scary set of events that I don’t think even the t-shirt-wearing geniuses at Apple can solve…
Or, I just might be letting all the Sleepy Hollow episodes get to me.